Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Obama Clinches Democratic Nomination
Aired June 4, 2008 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight a historic moment for Barack Obama and America. Senator Obama has now chalked up enough delegates to win his party's nomination, and looks like he'll be the first African-American to head the ticket of a major political party.
But Hillary is conceding nothing. Mrs. Clinton will stay in, at least through this week.
We've got some great guests standing by, and we'll start with some of the best political team in television. They are Wolf Blitzer, of course, our moderator. He's in New York. He anchored everything around here, and he anchors "The Situation Room" and "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" every Sunday.
Covering Clinton, also in New York tonight, is Candy Crowley, our CNN senior political correspondent. And in St. Paul, Minnesota, Jessica Yellin, the CNN Capitol Hill correspondent.
All right, Wolf, what's your read on all this, though? The pundits were all saying she was going to withdraw tonight. What happened?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I never thought she would. There was a story earlier in the day, Larry. The Associated Press had a story saying she would acknowledge that he now has enough of the delegates to secure the nomination.
But here team, including Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton campaign chairman, they quickly denied that. They said it was absolutely not true.
I suspect, Larry, within the next couple of days, maybe as early as tomorrow, she will try to do exactly what some of the others had expected she would do tonight, because she sees the math just as well as anyone.
And I think there's still a desire, a strong desire on her part, to at least be seriously considered by him as her running mate. I think that's still a possibility, something I don't think we should rule out by any means.
She got perhaps even more of the popular vote than he did. It depends on how you do the calculations. And she just got almost as many of the delegates. He got a few more. And as a result, he's going to get the nomination.
So, she would bring a lot to the ticket. And I think that the Obama team is going to have to seriously consider that. Whether or not they go forward with it, of course, remains to be seen.
KING: Candy Crowley, you're with her, the team up there, also in New York City. What's your read?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK CITY: Well, there was really a bit of a parallel universe field to this event tonight. We knew she wasn't going to quit. We knew that she wasn't even going to concede.
But you thought that she would kind of start the ball rolling down that, that this would be a time to look back, that this would be a time to talk about the party coming together. But in a sense what you really got was her campaign speech with a couple extra sentences in there.
And before she came out, half of her surrogates were in here talking about what a great V.P. she would make. And she goes up there, and they introduce her as the next president of the United States. So, there was a very distinct feel here that this particular room was kind of separate from the rest of the world.
They didn't even, Larry, have TVs in here. They usually have those big Trinitron screens, so that everyone can watch the results when they come in. We were in the basement of a university in the gymnasium -- not a TV anywhere. So, no one in the room even knew what the results were -- South Dakota and Montana.
So, it just really had this very separatist feel to it tonight.
KING: And Jessica Yellin in St. Paul with the camp of Senator Obama, is he ticked?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT, ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA: Larry, they're not saying that. Their prime motivation right now is to make sure that they are focused on the message ahead and not upsetting Senator Clinton. The last thing they'd want to do right now is say anything publicly that would be overtly critical of her, because they really want to try to ease into the next stage of this race, which is bringing her on board, creating unity within the party and focusing on John McCain.
Plenty of their surrogates can go out and say what they want about the speech, but you're not going to hear it directly from the Obama campaign if they were upset.
I do have a bit of news to report, which is that Senator Obama, as I had reported earlier, did try to reach out to Senator Clinton and tried to connect. He got voice mail, because Senator Clinton was in a -- and all her aides were in an area where they couldn't get reception. And Senator Clinton's aides have tried to call back and put the two in touch. And now they're getting voice mail.
So, I guess you can be the presumptive nominee and the almost nominee, or the second run, and still have voice mail tag.
If I can just add that folks in this room, I'll tell you, there's a sense of real elation here. And, you know, I asked people ahead what it was that was most memorable about the speech to them. And there were two things.
One is people left saying they were really excited about his message on Iraq. You heard that over and over: get our troops out.
And the other was his message when he said, this is our moment, this is our time. And he connected with these people in the room the way he does at so many of these forums. It gives them a sense that there is this possibility for a different way of being involved, a different form of government, et cetera.
And you saw it here. He had volunteers working the room, signing people up to coordinate in their neighborhoods, to register new people to vote.
I mean, this campaign is so organized. They're getting people online, even as he's giving the speech tonight.
KING: Thanks, Jessica Yellin.
Wolf Blitzer, do we now refer to Senator Obama, as we do Senator McCain, the presumed nominee?
BLITZER: Yes. I think we do, Larry.
I'm just looking at the numbers right now. He needed 2,118 to secure the nomination. And by our estimate, after the dust settles tonight in the final two contests in Montana and South Dakota, we now have him at 2,156.
So, it's not just one or two or three delegates that he has. You know, he's obviously way over the number right now.
And so, I think it's fair to call him the presumptive nominee, just as we all John McCain the presumptive nominee.
KING: In 1964, there were a lot of people who backed Robert Kennedy, who liked Robert Kennedy. They wanted him to be the vice presidential nominee with Lyndon Johnson. And Johnson eliminated him fairly early on by declaring, as I remember it, three candidates who would not be vice president. And he included Robert Kennedy among them.
Do you think Obama might eliminate her early, if she's not going to be the pick?
BLITZER: That's a good question, Larry. I don't think so. I think he realizes, Barack Obama right now, that she does have an army of support, that she did get almost 18 million votes. He got almost 18 million votes.
This party is very evenly divided right now. And the irony, in the most recent contests -- including in South Dakota today, which she won decisively, he won decisively in Montana. But if you take a look at what happened in Puerto Rico, which could be a bellwether for some of the Hispanic, Latino votes out there, and take a look at some of those other battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, Michigan and Florida, she does well there.
You could make the case that he needs her. He needs their support, her supporters. And he's going to have to reach out to them and unify this party.
KING: Candy Crowley, do you think there could be a kind of war in Denver?
CROWLEY: I think -- actually, I don't, and here's why.
I think there are so many people that do not want that big public fight on TV. This is their time for the parties, these conventions, to show their best stuff.
And what they have found, the Democrats, is every time there is a fight -- Kennedy-Carter -- they lose when the general election comes along. So, that history plays in their mind, and they understand that they really have to settle -- whatever is out there has to get settled long before they get to that convention, because it is so important to put that best face forward as they move into the fall.
KING: Thanks to all of you, Jessica Yellin, Candy Crowley and Wolf Blitzer. Get a good night's rest. Yeoman-like work all day today. All back at their posts tomorrow, on the road, and Wolf Blitzer back in the "Situation Room."
When we come back, our panel will join us on this special late edition of LARRY KING LIVE -- borrowing the title of Wolf's show. And we'll be with you for two full hours tonight. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another, a journey...
... a journey that will bring a new and better day to America.
Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We have an outstanding panel to discuss the extraordinary events of today.
They are, in New York, David Gergen, CNN's senior political analyst. Served as a White House advisor to many presidents, and is editor-in- chief of the "U.S. News and World Report."
In New York, as well, is Lanny Davis, special counsel for President Bill Clinton, and a major supporter of Hillary.
Also in New York, Jamal Simmons, the Democratic strategist, president of New Future Communications, a supporter of Barack Obama.
And here in Los Angeles, Arianna Huffington, the founder and editor- in-chief of the "Huffington Post," which in itself has become a runaway story, and is the best-selling author. Her latest book is "Right Is Wrong."
We'll start with Arianna. Ladies first.
What do you make of this?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "HUFFINGTON POST": Well, whoever you support, whether you're a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, this is a great night for America.
When Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech at the convention in Denver, it's going to be on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. So, that alone, the historic significance of the first African-American candidate is really incredibly significant.
KING: Well put.
David, did Hillary -- did Hillary Clinton at all tonight diminish that moment by her speech?
DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": Yes, in some ways she did. But, Larry, let me just echo first what Arianna said.
I think this whole campaign, especially with both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, has done a lot to help America's reputation beyond our shores.
I've been in Europe, I've been in England, recently in Canada. And I can tell you, in Toronto, for example, a lot of people came up to me and said, "You know, we've seen a lot of things about America recently we haven't liked very much. But we love this campaign."
People are deeply interested all over the world. And they said, "We love the robustness of it. We wish you had a politics like this."
And the fact that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama now have legitimized the idea that no matter what your gender and no matter what your race, that you can make it to the top of American politics. I think that that alone is a moment for celebration.
We've a lot of other things to talk about, but I think we should pat ourselves on the back as Americans, and understand we can help to restore our reputation.
KING: Very well said.
Lanny Davis, why didn't your candidate pack it in? LANNY DAVIS, CLINTON SUPPORTER: First of all, very well said, David. Hear, hear. And Jamal, as well.
We are all Americans. We are all Democrats. And Hillary Clinton tonight congratulated Barack Obama, spoke about his inspirational campaign.
I've already said on this program that my son was inspired by Barack Obama, and I've watched the way he has affected young people and new voters, and what he's done to the Democratic Party. And I think Senator Clinton, in that spirit, spoke very, very positively about him and her intention to work very hard for him.
She has passionate, committed supporters, Larry. And the answer to your question is, it's going to take a little time to make the transition. And rather than being impatient, I think we ought to just be understanding that Senator Clinton has the best interests of the party, and the best interests of Senator Obama and the need to defeat Senator McCain, uppermost in her mind.
KING: Jamal Simmons, do you agree with what Lanny just said?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I've got to say, I -- partially. I mean this to be generous. And I think Lanny is right when he makes the point that it's going to take a while to bring her supporters over.
What was a little disturbing, though, was that moment where people started chanting, "Denver! Denver! Denver!"
And instead of trying to calm them down and soothe them, and get them back on board the bus, she sort of basked in the glory of the crowd's adulation. And it was at that moment that I thought, something here is just going a little bit awry.
And to get back to the earlier point, the Barack Obama that we saw tonight, and this moment, this is a particularly American moment. His story is such an American story.
The child of a father from another country who comes to America and marries an American woman, grows up in humble beginnings, and then takes those humble beginnings and goes through school, gets scholarships, becomes a leader at "Harvard Law Review."
Richard -- I mean, Ronald Reagan had that story coming out of Illinois. Bill Clinton had that story coming out of Arkansas. Harry Truman had that story coming out of Missouri.
So, I think we all have to take this, not just as an African-American story, but clearly an American victory.
KING: Arianna, were you disappointed in Senator Clinton tonight?
HUFFINGTON: I think she wasted the moment. That was a great moment for her to have actually reached out to her supporters and asked them to come on board to support the nominee. After all, he is the nominee. So, she wasted that moment.
But going forward, I think we need to focus on what this represents for America and for the Democratic Party. This is really the end of the fear card. It's going to be played again and again by John McCain. But this is the moment when Barack Obama proves that you can actually win a campaign, despite all the fear-mongering that went on.
Remember, you know, this is the man who was supposed to be a Muslim, whose middle name was Hussein, went to a madrasa school, wanted to sit down with Ahmadinejad. Despite all that...
KING: That was the far right-wing wackos, though. Right?
HUFFINGTON: Yes, but that was also repeated, again and again and again by the media, too. Reverend Wright -- all the stories.
And despite all that, hope prevailed over fear.
GERGEN: Having -- I tried to say what was positive about tonight and this campaign.
Let me take issue -- and I know my good friend, Lanny Davis, will take issue with me over this. But I do believe that tonight was an historic night, in which the night should have belonged to Barack Obama.
And I understand that Hillary Clinton has run a superb campaign in many ways, and she won the second half of this campaign very strongly. She ran -- she was much -- you know, she won those late primaries very handily. And you have to give it to her. She has a lot of spirit.
But there was a sense, I think, tonight, that she was going to come out and not just praise him, but make -- concede that he had actually won it. And she would begin unifying the party. And instead, going and asking now for people to send in notes to her dot-com site about what she ought to do now, we know what a lot of those notes are going to say. They're going to say, fight on to Denver, keep fighting. And she has given the appearance that she is going to negotiate with him now almost as a co-equal. And Lanny himself is starting a petition, according to The New York Times, to ask Barack Obama to put her on the ticket.
I must tell you that I've evolved a lot on whether she should be on the ticket. I've come around to believing there are a lot of strong reasons why it might make sense to have her on the ticket. But if it's done by pressuring Barack Obama so that he has to, in effect -- he is, in effect, you know, in a weak position where I'm saying, I will take her because I'm being forced to take her. I think that's a recipe for real trouble down the road.
KING: And maybe disaster. We'll take a break and come back with more of this outstanding group on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And we'll have an extra hour at the top. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, the question is, where do we go from here? And given how far we've come and where we need to go as a party, it's a question I don't take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Lanny Davis, you're very close to her. What is she telling you?
DAVIS: She's telling me that she's proud of the campaign that she ran. She's more concerned about my disappointment than her own. She was very uplifting, as she always is. And with all due respect to Arianna and David and Jamal and I share their sentiments about how proud we as Americans should be that an African-American can become president of the United States, we also have a great deal of pride that a female has won 18 million votes and that we could have the ticket of an African-American and a female get elected president and vice president of the United States.
So my petition, David, was very carefully worded and very personally felt. I didn't ask anybody's permission. I didn't add anybody's authorization. And I said in the petition, we know this is your decision, Senator Obama. Here are the reasons why we think we can help you in putting this country together again with your strengths and with her strengths to actually elect a president and a vice president.
KING: We have an e-mail question from Ann (ph) in Rancho Mirage, California. And we'll direct it to Jamal. "How can Obama not ask Hillary Clinton to be his running mate? If their positions were reversed tonight, wouldn't the party be screaming for her to pick him?"
SIMMONS: I don't think so. What the party will scream for is that the nominee choose someone that will help us win in November. I mean, one of the things that we saw in the John Kerry-John Edwards race, for instance, John Kerry picked John Edwards, but he couldn't win North Carolina.
One of the things you want from your vice presidential nominee is someone who can bring a state that you either can't win without him or her or someone who can bring, say, that sort of borderline like a Jim Webb in Virginia or a Governor Strickland in Ohio or Governor Schweitzer in Montana.
Those are the kind of names you're hearing, Governor Sebelius in Kansas. So that's one of the questions that I think people really want to know about. The other one is whether or not there's going to be -- is there some part of the electorate that they bring that you may not necessarily get to have?
And then do they evidence your -- do they reinforce your desire for what your campaign is about or do they dampen that? So you want somebody who is actually going to make the case for change as strongly as Barack Obama does, perhaps.
KING: Arianna, do you see an Obama-Clinton ticket?
HUFFINGTON: No, I actually don't see an Obama-Clinton ticket, no. I think that Obama's campaign is all about the future. Obama now is basically in charge of the Democratic Party. This is the end of the Clinton era of the Democratic Party. This is truly reality. This is what has happened.
When he talked tonight, he talked about the Democratic Party. He can now speak on behalf of the Democratic Party. And as it happened yesterday, we had Bill Clinton completely losing it at the rope line when Mayhill Fowler...
KING: On your Web site.
HUFFINGTON: Yes. Well, one of our citizen journalists on "Off the Bus" asked him a question about the Vanity Fair article, and he completely lost it. He called Todd Purdum a scumbag. He went on to say that Barack Obama is putting up his pastors to attack Hillary Clinton. This was simply deranged.
So the idea of actually putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket and having to deal not just with Hillary Clinton and her disappointment, but having to deal with Bill Clinton and the way he has been running this whole campaign from the beginning of going on "Charlie Rose" and saying that voting for Barack Obama is rolling the dice.
That was the beginning of the fear-mongering, and it's time for that to stop.
KING: David, though will the Hillary voters, will a lot of them stay home if she's not in the ticket?
GERGEN: I think there's a danger that there will be an embittered Hillary group that will stay home or will vote for McCain. We had two more examples in the exit polls out of Montana and South Dakota today where over 30 percent of people who voted in both states said that if Barack Obama were the nominee, they would either vote for McCain or stay home.
Now I presume those numbers will come down over time. There will be some healing, but it's incredibly important for the future of this party and its success how this -- how these next few days are played out.
Whether this is done with a deft diplomacy, a delicate diplomacy that shows enormous respect for her and what she has accomplished, and at the same time respects his right as the nominee to make independent decisions and not be sort of doing things or making decisions either about vice president or about policies with a gun to his head.
I mean, in effect tonight she was saying, in what I thought was a defiant speech, that she was saying, I had these 18 million people, and if you want them to come over and support you, you've got to listen to me. And you, in effect, have got to pay attention to what I want.
Now, I don't know whether that's going to be in a negotiation or whether, as James Carville says, it's just going to take a day or two and she's going to make some more phone calls and then she will concede and do it very graciously. That may be the case. And if so, it will be a lot easier.
But it sounded tonight, implicit in what she said was that I have these 18 million people behind me and you've got to bargain with me if you want their support and if you want to win in November.
KING: Lanny, what do you think she's going to do, Lanny? What do you think she's going to do?
DAVIS: Well, first of all, I guess -- I think she's going to take her time and work very hard to support Senator Obama when he's the nominee. But I think all in due course. And I don't think you turn the button off and on as quickly as people might like.
But I think there's a human dimension here. I heard a very gracious speech tonight. That is what she's going to do, Larry, and that is, be gracious. She did compliment Senator Obama. She did talk about his campaign in very glowing terms.
She has followers out there that wanted to hear her talk about her concern about the issues and about her intention to keep fighting for those issues and to fight for a Democratic president.
To me, sure, half empty, half full, we can differ in our perspectives. But I think David and Arianna and I agree that this is an inspiring moment for an African-American and a woman to have done so well and titans as candidates for president.
And the party will come together, of that I am certain.
KING: We have a lot of clout at CNN, but not enough clout to stop those workmen from breaking down that room behind Lanny Davis. Union, there is strength.
We'll be back in a moment with more of this panel, and then another panel. By the way, there you see Mount Rushmore on this historic night in politics. We wonder what Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln would think of this political season. We'll return right after the break with today's primary roundup.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past, our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for this country that we love!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Senator Clinton wins tonight in South Dakota, and Senator Obama wins in Montana and has the delegates to go, as they say, over the top.
Jamal, the one thing we don't know, nobody polls with the question are you going to vote for or against someone because they're black. Do we know what the hidden race issue might be?
SIMMONS: Well, we don't know. The reality is we really don't know. But Barack Obama has said from the very beginning he thought if he won or if he lost this campaign, it wouldn't be because of race. It would be because he didn't make the case effectively enough to the American people about why he should be trusted to take the leadership. He's never leaned on race, he's never used race as a crutch or excuse. He's always said this campaign is about my vision and my plan for America. And whether or not I can convince America.
Clearly there will be some who think they are not ready to get an African American as president. But I think the United States has progressed in a very interesting way. And we've seen it with Barack Obama. He won in Montana. I don't know how many African Americans there are in Montana. I've been out there to Bozeman. I didn't see that many.
KING: Arianna, we don't know if someone goes into that polling booth and just says no.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTON POST: What we have been underestimating from the beginning of this campaign is the extent to which Barack Obama is bringing in new people to the political process. People have always said young people are not going to come out to vote in large numbers. They have come out to vote in large numbers. First-time voters, unprecedented numbers. That's going to be what's going to get him to the White House in the end, bringing in new voters, basically speaking to the zeitgeist, speaking to the longing in America for fundamental change. That is what the Clinton campaign underestimated. Remember, Mark Penn has written a book on meg megatrends and microtrends. He is great on microtends, but Barack Obama is about a megatrend, he is about this generational change that Jefferson spoke about and he embodies.
KING: David, there's a significant amount of people who would vote against him because he's black?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: I do. I think Arianna is absolutely right, that the younger generation is different. It's a much more embracing of diversity. It's grown up in an environment where people where ethnicity and race and gender are not as meaningful differences as they once were in America. So that I happen to come from North Carolina, Larry, and I can tell you 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, Barack Obama would not have won a primary in the way that he did there, winning over many white voters, many of them young. But as you go up the age scale -- and this has something to do also with income -- you do find pockets of racism in the country still. There are strains of it. And I think the Wright controversy, the Reverend Wright controversy, some people seized upon that because it gave them a reason to be against Barack Obama when the underlying reason had a lot more to do with sort of wariness about race than it had to do with the Wright fear itself. But it gave him a rationale for saying it's not really about race. It's about this radicalism and it's about this anti-Americanism that we see.
KING: Lanny, you've been around a long time. What do you think of the race question?
DAVIS: You know, the people that I travel with, I'm a liberal Democrat. All other things being equal, I'd vote for an African American because it's about time. I'm proud of what Barack Obama has done. I'm proud for America. I'm proud of what Hillary Clinton has done for women to give women hope that they can be president someday. And that's why, to go back to David's comments about my petition, I hope my friend, David, will read the way I wrote this letter because I said, this is your decision, Senator Obama. And we respect your right to make that decision. But here are the reasons why we believe -- and I'm speaking only for myself, I'm the only signatory right now -- that Senator Clinton will help you get elected president because you both have different strengths and in different segments of the population which, in combination, will be very, very powerful in electing you president.
And nobody intends, certainly not me, to put him in a corner or to put him under pressure, but to simply show him how much additional strength the Clinton candidacy adds to a Barack nomination and presidential candidacy.
KING: Jamal, if Clinton is the vice presidential nominee, there's another Clinton that comes along. That's Bill Clinton. And while he's had his moments, he ain't a bad campaigner.
SIMMONS: He's not a bad campaigner. I think there's going to be a little bit of dancing going on to get Bill Clinton as a credible messenger about why Barack Obama is the best person to be president. He got pretty far out on a limb in his critique of Barack Obama. And when you were listening to it, it seemed that way. But you know, there's some other issues that are all out there. We've all been talking about this "Vanity Fair" story. Whether you agree with it or disagree with it, that's the kind of talk that Republicans will start to make if you get the Clintons back on a national ticket. The Democrats are pretty gentlemanly about the Clintons and their past. I don't expect the republicans to be that way. So it's a mixed bag.
KING: Arianna will be leaving us. She'll be joining us, though, in the last hour of this special two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE and Kellyanne Conway will join us. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have just talked on the phone. We'll have the details when we continue.
KING: We're back. Kellyanne Conway, pollster, supporter of John McCain joins our panel. Arianna will return in the last hour. But this just in to us. At 12:16 eastern time tonight, apparently Clinton called Obama. Obama congratulated here her on the victory in South Dakota and reiterated he wants to sit down when it makes sense for her. She thanked him for the call, didn't know what her response was exactly that the spokesman said, but added it was something like, I'm sure that will happen soon. And Gibbs, who is the spokesman, Gibbs said there's no plan for them to meet tomorrow. Still no word if she actually congratulated him for the evening.
I have no idea what to make of that. Anyway, before Kellyanne - Kellyanne, we're going to run a clip of Senator McCain tonight, discussing the candidacy of his opponent and want your comment. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent. He will be a formidable one. But I'm ready for the challenge and determined to run this race in a way that does credit to our campaign and to the proud, decent and patriotic people that I ask to lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Kellyanne, how tough a road ahead is this for your candidate?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: Well, unlike Senator Clinton, we republicans take Senator Obama and his clear victory tonight very seriously. And I can tell that you Senator Clinton really stands alone, including, among Republicans, Larry, in terms of not legitimizing Senator Obama's very clear victory tonight in scooping up enough delegates to be the democratic nominee. We are ready in full force. What I think what's remarkable about this year's election process is that each of the parties ended up with what can arguably be the most nonpartisan post-partisan candidate.
Somehow the Republicans stumbled into theirs about four months ago. And now Senator Obama, who has always tried to make this race about something other than traditional party politics, and I think the Clintons, both of whom seemed to take cheap shots at Mr. Obama and his campaign for a while. That came back ultimately to lead to their failure in securing the nomination. Here's something I just need to add. This whole talk of unity, unless Clinton is willing to come forth and congratulate the victor and nominee, Barack Obama, then unity just seems cosmetic. Unity can neither be cosmetic nor contrived. It has to be deep and has to be substantive.
KING: David, what do you make of what Kellyanne just said?
GERGEN: It's hard to know what part. Well, I must say I thought that Senator McCain tonight gave a clever speech. You can't match Barack Obama, or even Hillary Clinton rhetorically, but I do think that he sends signals to people that he's an adult at a time we've had a lot of adolescence politics in Washington and that his values and that his valor appeal to a great number of people.
And in a year when Democrats ought to win the presidency by a large margin, even by a landslide, he's extremely competitive right now. And he's going to be -- I don't think he's the favorite, but he clearly is going to run a campaign that is going to be very, very competitive for Barack Obama. And I do think it goes back to what Kellyanne said about unity on the democratic side. They need to get unified. Barack Obama normally, you would think the candidate could start focusing his energies now on the national election. He's still got to work this thing out. Hillary Clinton hasn't left the stage. So my question to my friend, Lanny Davis, my friend Lanny Davis, do you think this is over, the nomination fight is over, and does Mrs. Clinton think it is over?
KING: Fair question.
DAVIS: Well, fair question, and the answer is, of course, he's got a majority of the delegates, and it's over. Whether it has to be over tonight or on the timetable of pundits or people who use words like "cheap shots" because they're partisan and have no facts to support that characterization, I only talk about facts. She used the word "congratulations" and congratulated Senator Obama tonight. So to say that she didn't use the word is simply inaccurate.
But she's not operating on anybody's timetable, but what makes her comfortable in transitioning ...
KING: But Lanny ...
DAVIS: ... having just come off a big experience.
KING: Lanny, you sounded like Yogi Berra. You agree with Gergen that it's over, but you're not going to say it's over because you are not going to say it's over now.
DAVIS: I don't think it has to be a declaration or a concession on anybody's timetable. It is over because a majority of the delegates have committed to Senator Obama. That's a fact.
KING: So it's over?
DAVIS: So does Senator Clinton have a right to continue on and to look at the convention as an opportunity to fight for health care and not simply the night that everybody ...
CONWAY: Talk about a cheap shot. I'm not the one ...
DAVIS: She has every right to do that.
CONWAY: Lanny, just to be clear because I think that was a cheap shot earlier. I'm not the one who referred to Obama as a fairy tale. That was Bill Clinton. I think that was a real turning point.
DAVIS: That was a false statement, Larry. And unfortunately Kellyanne makes false statements. He never called Barack Obama a fairy tale. That's a false statement. And you don't want to say false statements on the air. He's described his depiction of -- that is also a false statement. The only thing he ever said was his depiction of his Iraq War record was a fairy tale. That's a fact. Your characterization, again ...
CONWAY: I'd like to congratulate Senator Obama.
KING: We'll let Jamal get a word in before we take a break.
SIMMONS: Here's what I'm concerned about, Lanny's statement she wants to carry her cause for health care to convention. The reality is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, like someone said earlier tonight, paper thin with differences. Why is she carrying her cause to the convention if the nomination fight is over? What she can do is, as Barack Obama said, he wants for her to be a part of universal health care plan and be a person who's really going to carry that plan to success. So there's no reason for her to carry it to convention. She can carry it to the conversation she and Barack Obama apparently have talked about having.
DAVIS: Let me withdraw an ex-characterization myself. I'm talking about her concern about issues at the convention. I'm not talking about her carrying fights. She is not going to be divisive, she is not going to be critical. She'll be supportive of Senator Obama, and she said that tonight, Jamal, and she meant it.
SIMMONS: OK. Thanks.
KING: We'll have more passionate debate when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run. Senator Obama has inspired so many Americans to care about politics and empowered so many more to get involved. And our party and our democracy is stronger and more vibrant as a result.
OBAMA: Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign. She has made history not -- not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she is a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.
KING: We're back. Let's take a call. It's Deming, New Mexico. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. What are the thoughts of your guests on eliminating Hillary Clinton as quickly as possible as the vice presidential candidate so that we can move on and build with a like-minded person, the change we believe in.
KING: David, what do you make of that idea, to say good-bye now?
GERGEN: Well, you raised that earlier. I think that, frankly, would be a mistake because I think as you look at -- this is an historic night for Barack Obama. It is also true that he did not close out the season well. He did not have a triumphant flourish and win a whole string of primaries. That does not mean he can't win the general election. It does raise questions about can he amass the votes that he needs? In that sense if you're really trying to win, will she help the ticket, make a substantial difference and go with what Lanny is putting together? I'm sure he's got some arguments that would suggest it would be a lot stronger Democratic ticket if she were on it.
I don't think he should do that. I do think that given the profile of the Clintons and how central they are to this conversation and the fact that we're talking about Clinton as much as Obama tonight even though he's won the nomination, it does raise the question, and not have the next two months from now to August debating whether he's going to do it or not when he needs to get the focus on the fall campaign.
KING: Kellyanne, would ticket of Clinton/Obama ticket be tough for the McCain camp?
CONWAY: Yes, I think Obama heading the ticket is already tough. Yes, this is a woman who has, as she likes to point out, she has nearly or about 18 million people have come out and voted for her. She's got a lot of women out there seriously concerned that she has been treated unfairly on her path to the nomination and I think some of those bitter feelings will continue forward and those women are not going to necessarily stay home, they are going to want to have their voices heard in this election, Larry. I think the McCain campaign would do sell to pick off some of them as they wait for Barack Obama to decide whether or not.
But look, the caller asked a very important, sincere and straightforward question. Shouldn't you foreclose the option of Hillary Clinton as the vice presidential nominee? I say no, you first have to close the option of Hillary Clinton as the presidential nominee. She has not yet closed the door on that tonight.
KING: Los Angeles, a caller, hello.
CALLER: Good evening. Is there a chance of backlash with Obama voters if she decides to go with Obama voters. Do you think Obama voters will say forget about it? We're too angry about his choice and move on?
KING: Jamal, you think that might happen?
SIMMONS: Yes. There's a lot of e-mail traffic. I get a lot of this e-mail traffic myself. I can only imagine what they get from the Obama campaign. From people who are saying there is no way she can be chosen. They have a whole list of grievances. Go through them about what has been said and done during the course of this campaign. But let's sort of broaden this out. If we think about this in the perspective, neither Clinton has ever lost a campaign since 1980, so they're not particularly adept at how to navigate this part of the process. So in some sense I think people are willing to give her a little bit of space in terms of when she endorsed or how she let the crowd down but she didn't do that and we've already discussed.
But given Kellyanne's point, there are people, both men and women, who are supporting Hillary Clinton. At some point they'll have to start to look at Hillary Clinton. They start to point fingers about what happened in this campaign. She's the one who chose a campaign manager who hadn't won a campaign before.
She is the one who chose a strategist who completely gave her a different strategy. She is the one who chose to run as an establishment candidate in a year of change. So she bears some responsibility for what happened in the course of this campaign and she also bears some credit for taking a campaign that had run up against a ship - the ship had run up against the rocks and really riding it. She figured out how to take a campaign that was ill conceived from the very beginning and figured how to get it back upright and did a very good for the last few primaries and caucuses. But it just wasn't fast enough and it wasn't enough to win.
KING: Lanny, we've only got a little over a minute. Lanny, is this your year? Is this the year of the Democrats?
DAVIS: I think the Democrats should win. I think Senator Obama has some vulnerabilities that he's got to work on. I hope he will and I think he will. I think at least this panel should acknowledge that you heard the word congratulate about two minutes after somebody on this panel said she didn't use the word congratulate. Is there any sort of grace on this panel that Jamal is sort of criticizing Hillary Clinton tonight ...
SIMMONS: I was (inaudible).
DAVIS: Well, you started out very negative ...
SIMMONS: So did she.
DAVIS: I like the way you ended. Look, let's all at least agree. I found in the room tonight a lot of generosity, a lot of desire to pull the party together, no animus towards Senator Obama anywhere I can find. And unfortunately I understand Jamal. I get the hate mail from Obama supporters, and it's scary. We try to get back and get back to the issued where they've agreed since the beginning of the campaign on virtually ever issue.
KING: OK. Guys, we're out of time, thanks.
DAVIS: That's why we're going to win.
KING: Thanks, Lanny. Thank you, Lanny Davis, David Gergen, Jamal Simmons. Kellyanne Conway, we'll be coming back as well as Arianna Huffington but both will be with us in another hour of LARRY KING LIVE. That's right, it's an historic night and a two-hour edition of this program. Stay with us.